People in Ireland are having fewer children than they were a decade ago and that number is still declining. According to Ireland’s Central Statistics Office, the nation’s birth rate in 2019 was the lowest ever recorded, sparking concerns of future economic collapse.
From 2009 to 2019, the birth rate in Ireland dropped 20%, and the number of births continued to plummet by 10% for the first quarter of 2020. The fertility rate — the number of children per woman — is now at 1.7, well below the replacement level of 2.1. There were 59,796 births in Ireland 2019, 1,220 fewer than in 2018.
Dublin City University economics professor Edgar Morgenroth warned that the falling birth rate could have long term repercussions for Ireland as it did for Germany. “You check the age and vibrancy of a lot of places in Germany, it has a huge effect,” he explained. “There are towns in Germany as big as Galway which don’t even have a cinema now.”
The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has stated that the aging population of Ireland will lead to an increase in healthcare costs and the age at which individuals will receive a pension will rise to 69 by 2035. In addition, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that the age of retirement will increase by 8.4 years by 2050 to 73.4 years old.
“Unfortunately, many of our political leaders just don’t have the political strength to state the bleeding obvious — it’s a time bomb ticking away,” said Jim Power, Chief Economist with Friends First and a senior lecturer at the UCD Smurfit School of Business. He called the decline in Ireland’s birth rate “one of the biggest challenges facing the country.”
Other nations such as Hungary have faced similar problems and are attempting to combat the declining population with pro-family policies and incentives. As a result, the abortion rate there has dropped. Italy had its smallest number of births ever in 2019. Even the United States’ birth rate is at an all-time low, causing concern for the country’s economic future.
Reasons given for the declining birth rate and fertility in Ireland include more pressure for both parents to work outside the home, a decline in marriage rates, delayed age of first-time parenthood, fears about overpopulation, and concerns for the environment. The nation also legalized abortion in 2019, which has led do the deaths of over 6,600 preborn children, whose deaths were largely taxpayer-funded.
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